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ESET NOD32 AntiVirus 5
VERSION:  Windows 7 / Vista / XP / 2000 (Requirements), Single User

PRICE:  $39.99

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Other Versions:  ESET Smart Security download
Rating: Very Good      

Review of ESET NOD32 AntiVirus Version 5

     By Jay Andrew Allen | October 3, 2011

ESET We heaped praise upon ESET's NOD32 AntiVirus 4.2 last year, praising its uncomplicated interface and zippy performance. With NOD32 AntiVirus 5, ESET continues its "keep it simple" approach, offering a streamlined interface with few bells and whistles. On the down side, last year's release contained no new features, putting NOD32 at risk of falling behind its competition. With NOD32 AntiVirus 5, ESET proves it's far from out of the game.

1) Features & Usability:  13.5/15

Dashboard: NOD32 version 4 had two different Dashboard styles: a Basic mode with limited features and options, and an Advanced mode that unveiled richer functionality. With AntiVirus 5, ESET ditches this questionable feature in favor of a rich yet simple unified Dashboard. To simplify the task of finding popular features, the new Home screen sports a Frequently Used list of recent commands. A "Protection" box in the upper right window indicates the computer's current protection status, as well as provides a drop-down menu of popular commands.

NOD32 5.0 Dashboard:

Another UI improvement, breadcrumbs, provides a navigational menu on the top left of the main Dashboard area that provides one-click access back up a chain of sub-dialogs. It's a great little addition, but limited in use, given that no NOD32 features takes you more than two levels deep.

The NOD32 user interface is still highly configurable. By navigating to Setup -> Enter advanced setup..., users can disable the splash screen, suppress notifications, and even switch NOD32 to a non-graphical interface that would warm the heart of any Unix command-line junkie (Screenshot 7).

New Features:
Is there anything revolutionary in NOD32's new features? No. What ESET has given us, however, is a well-executed set of industry-standard features that, taken together, put ESET on a level footing with the big players in the anti-virus industry.

First up: NOD32 gets Gamer Mode! A standard feature on many anti-virus platforms, Gamer Mode suspends disk and memory-intensive virus scanning applications when a user is watching a video or playing a PC-based game. NOD32's implementation is flexible: users can enable Gamer Mode manually, or configure the platform to enable it automatically whenever an application runs in full-screen mode. (To enable this auto-on functionality, go to Setup -> Enter advanced setup..., select User interface -> Gamer mode, and click on Enable Gamer Mode when running applications in full-screen mode automatically.) When Gamer Mode is enabled, the Protection icon in the upper right corner of NOD32 switches to orange as a warning that anti-virus scanning is temporarily suspended.

In order to keep apace of the rest of the anti-virus market, ESET has expanded its repertoire of malware technologies. ESET's cloud technology, Live Grid, uses information from millions of ESET users worldwide to flag potentially dangerous files and applications, providing additional defense against so-called "zero day" attacks. The ESET Reputation system tags processes with a reputation rating based on their worldwide prevalence and a computed risk level. NOD32 users can see the reputation assigned to all processes in the Running Processes tab off of the Tools screen (Screenshot 6). Finally, AntiVirus 5 introduces a new virus heuristic detection technology, Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), that detects and actively blocks applications engaged in suspicious activity.

Virus Scanner:
NOD32 version 5 introduces support for scanning and management of removable media. Whenever users insert a removable drive, they will be prompted whether to scan its contents now or later. NOD32 users can opt to change the default behavior so that all devices are automatically scanned whenever they are attached to the system.

NOD32 supports scanning any local drive, network drive, or removable media. Users can choose between three basic scan types: Smart Scan (the default); In-Depth Scan; and Context Menu scan.

NOD32 Virus Scanner:

Scan Speed: On our reference system*, ESET AntiVirus 5.0 cut a 44.3 MB/second initial swath through our 1GB test file matrix, and finished scanning the whole caboodle in 23.1 seconds. NOD32 exhibited an even greater leap in subsequent scans, tearing through the same matrix in a paltry 3.9 seconds, or 262.6 MB/second. Given that last year's subsequent scan speed clocked in at 70.6 MB/second, this is a vast improvement. (Graph)

Updates: NOD32 is still poor on virus definition updates, downloading new definitions a mere three times per day. (Graph)

*Reference Computer:  Windows 7 Home Premium running on a Toshiba Pentium Dual-Core T4200 (64 bit), with 3GB of RAM and a 210GB hard drive.

2) Performance Testing:  9/10

While NOD32 v4.2 was fast, there were still areas for improvement, particularly in subsequent scanning speeds (scans performed after an initial scan of the system). ESET receives kudos for improving upon all of its performance metrics across the board in our 2012 Performance Tests.

Memory Use: NOD32 5.0 uses 66.3 MB of system memory. #15 ranked program of the 15 Antivirus programs we tested.

Reboot Time: NOD32 added 5.9 seconds to our test computer's reboot time. #1 ranked program.

Installation Size: NOD32 AntiVirus 5 requires 309 MB of hard-drive space for installation. #7 ranked program.

Initial Scan Speed: NOD32 AntiVirus scans files the first time at a speed of 44.3 MB/s. #1 ranked program.

Subsequent Scan Speed: NOD32 performs subsequent scans at a speed of 262.6 MB/s. #4 ranked program.

Initial Application Launch: NOD32 5.0 added 0.102s to launch a web browser for the first time after a reboot. #2 ranked program.

Subsequent Application Launch: NOD32 added 0.068s on average for subsequent web browser launches. #1 ranked program.

File Conversion Time: NOD32 added 0.60s on average to convert a MP3 file to four other file types. #9 ranked program.

System Impact Score: The "System Impact Score" is a cumulative score tallied from the above 8 tests. NOD32 AntiVirus 5 scored a total of 88 out of 120 points when compared to the other programs we tested, placing NOD32 as the #2 ranked overall program. Similar to Version 4.2 last year, Version 5 finished second only to Norton Antivirus 2012.

View above Antivirus Performance Tests.

3) Effectiveness: (Virus Protection) 16.5/20

NOD32 v5 may have a great user-interface and set of features, plus a low system-impact, but all this means little if it doesn't do its basic anti-virus job. Below we look at the industry's top testing to see how it performs this essential function.

a) AV Comparatives has 2 major virus/malware tests that they perform. In the most recent test in August 2011, the On Demand Detection Test, NOD32 received top marks with a 3 Star rating (ADVANCED+). While in the second test back in May 2011, the Proactive Test, NOD32 was plagued with false positives - its 20 false positives were the second-most by any of the 12 programs tested. This abundance of false alarms dropped ESET's score to a 2-Star rating on this test.


b) AV-Test runs its test every few months rotating between different Windows operating systems. In their most recent test in August 2011, ESET received a 11 / 18 score on the Windows 7 platform. In the June 2011 testing, ESET received a 13 / 18 score on Windows XP, and a score of 12.5 / 18 on Windows 7 back in March. Although all three of these test scores were high enough to be Certified, there were several programs that performed better than ESET.

Note: Despite these tests being run on ESET Smart Security, they are still useful in evaluating NOD32's capabilities against malware due to the similarities between programs.

Win 7: Win XP: Win 7:

c) Virus Bulletin - VB 100% Certified. NOD32 passed the most recent VB100 test (August 2011), and has passed an industry-best 52 tests in a row - dating back to April 2002. No other antivirus application can boast ESET's record in these tests. The VB 100% award is given to antivirus software that detects all viruses "in the wild".

4) Help & Support:  3.5/5

When we reviewed NOD32 version 4.2 last year, we gave it a terrible support rating. Since then, ESET has ramped up its online offerings by expanding its knowledge base and posting video tutorials. ESET has made it easier to access its user forum (which, apparently, has been in operation since at least 2008). You can also follow and contact the company via social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Unfortunately, using a support request form is still the only way to contact customer care directly; ESET does not offer telephone or chat support.

»Quick Support Links:

     • Knowledgebase Home
     • Log a Support Request
     • ESET User Forum


While the false positives generated by NOD32 AntiVirus 5 are concerning, they don't negate the value that ESET has built into the latest release of their platform. We were impressed that NOD32 managed to ratchet up its performance while also adding a number of new features, such as Gamer Mode, automatic scanning of removable drives, and a host of new anti-virus technologies. In terms of features, performance, and ease of use, NOD32 AntiVirus 5 may be the best antivirus application you've never heard of. We recommend it highly to anyone in need of an easy yet efficient antivirus engine. Accordingly, NOD32 v5 remains our Most User Friendly antivirus program in our 2012 reviews to date.

Overall Rating: Excellent    (Total Score: 42.5 / 50 = 4.5 Stars)

Misc Info:

    • Reviewed By:
Jay Andrew Allen
    • Install Time:
2 min, 15s
    • Version Tested:
    • Release Date:
September 13, 2011
    • Review Date:
October 3, 2011
    • Last Updated:
October 4, 2011
    • Previous Version:
NOD32 AntiVirus 4.2

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NOD32 AntiVirus 5 Screenshots

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NOD32 AntiVirus 5 System Requirements:

Operating Systems Supported: Microsoft Windows 7 / Vista / XP / 2000

Processors Supported: Intel or AMD x86-x64

Hard Drive Space: 310 MB (for full installation)

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